MI5 'unfairly' pursued spy accused Katia Zatuliveter

 


The Government must examine MI5's professionalism and competency after the security agency "needlessly and unfairly" pursued an innocent woman accused of being a spy, her lawyer said tonight.

Tessa Gregory spoke out after Russian Katia Zatuliveter, 26, won an appeal to remain in the UK after the Security Service argued she was passing information to Moscow.

Miss Zatuliveter was arrested in December last year and served with a deportation order after spooks became suspicious of her.

She had embarked upon an affair in 2006 with Mike Hancock MP, and went on to work for him in Parliament where he sat on the Defence Select Committee.

MI5 alleged she was recruited by Russian intelligence and working to pass them information.

Her case was heard by the secretive Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) with large chunks of evidence heard behind closed doors with even Zatuliveter and her lawyers excluded.

But today, appeal chairman, Mr Justice Mitting, ruled there was insufficient evidence and the Home Secretary's case against Miss Zatuliveter was not strong enough to deport her.

After hugging her client, Miss Gregory slammed the Government and MI5.

Describing the ruling as "historic", Miss Gregory said: "We trust that the Government will reflect very carefully on today's judgment which must raise serious concerns as to the professionalism and competency within the Security Service."

Miss Gregory said her client had lived a "Kafkaesque nightmare" for the last year and had to air personal details about her relationship with Mr Hancock, 65, and a series of other men she had affairs with.

She said: "Katia is, of course, delighted by the judgment and hopes to now put this episode behind her.

"However, it should not have taken 12 months of costly legal proceedings to reach today's outcome.

"If the Security Service, like the court, had rigorously analysed the available evidence, they would never have concluded that she was a Russian spy and we would not be here today.

"Our Security Service is supposed to be responsible for protecting us against serious threats to national security.

"It is therefore extremely worrying that they have chosen to waste their time, at great public expense, needlessly and unfairly pursuing an innocent young woman.

"Their case was built entirely on speculation, prejudice and conjecture.

"It was amateur, poorly researched and compared very unfavourably to the counter-espionage work conducted by the FBI in recent years."

Emerging from the central London hearing, Miss Zatuliveter, who is being represented by a media handler and is expected to sign an exclusive deal to sell her story, said: "I feel fine. I am very happy, incredible relief. My parents are ecstatic."

In his written ruling, the judge said the panel - which featured former MI5 boss Sir Stephen Lander - "unhesitatingly accept" the intelligence service's assessment that Mr Hancock, MP for Portsmouth South, would have been "of long-standing interest to one or more of the Russian intelligence agencies".

Mr Justice Mitting wrote: "Even if she was approached in Russia by the FSB/SVR (two of the country's three intelligence agencies), we have seen nothing which satisfies us that she was recruited as an agent or was tasked, or acted, as one.

"We have not reached that conclusion by a narrow margin."

The judge said Miss Zatuliveter would have "been of great interest" to Russian intelligence "but they (her activities) are also entirely consistent with her being an ambitious young woman with an intense interest in politics and international relations".

But the possibility still exists that Miss Zatuliveter - who is due to return home for a short break before returning to the UK - is a spy.

"We cannot exclude the possibility that we have been gulled," the judge added.

"But if we have been, it has been by a supremely competent and rigorously trained operative.

"That does not fit all that we know about the appellant's age, background and characteristics."

The Home Office said it was disappointed with the ruling.

A spokeswoman said: "National security is the primary duty of government and we will take all necessary steps to protect the public from individuals we believe pose a threat and remove them from the UK.

"The court ruled that there were ample grounds for suspicion.

"We are therefore very disappointed by the court's judgment and stand by our decision to pursue deportation on national security grounds."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum